We would all like our dogs to obey our cues regardless of the environment and distractions present. In fact, it seems like the times we most need our dogs to obey us is when distractions are present i.e., when you have a house full of guests or you’re out in public with your dog.
There are two ways to teach reliability for any command: the first is to set up artificial scenarios, which we will do in class. The other is to practice with your dog in areas where there are naturally occurring distractions. This is something you will need to do outside of class. A few times a week, rather than training at your usual spot at home, take your dog somewhere else and practice there instead. Begin in a relatively quiet area that is familiar to your dog and gradually progress to new areas with more distractions as his performance improves. Training for reliability is all about taking baby-steps and building upon success. The more places you take your dog and practice, the more reliable he will become. If your dog is having difficulty executing cues in a specific environment you’re probably progressing too fast. Go back to training in areas with fewer distractions. And, don’t forget to reward your dog for a job well done as you work your way up through the various levels of distractions. At each level we are teaching are them several skills:
- HOW to Pay Attention to us in the presence of those distractions.
- HOW to Generalize the cue (automatically apply knowledge to situations ‘in general’). Read article on Generalization.
- HOW to use Impulse Control around those distractions.
In other words – there’s a whole lot of learning going on. Be patient as you make progress together and always take time to REWARD YOURSELF TOO!